What’s the difference between a breath test and chemical testing?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2018 | DUI |

Let’s say a police officer pulls you over in State College, and asks you to step out of your car. At this point, you should consider yourself detained and unable to leave the scene without the officer’s permission. Police officers typically only ask you to get out of your car if they think you committed a crime. In fact, if you try to exit your vehicle without the police officer instructing you to do so, you’ll likely land in a heap of trouble.

If you step outside your car upon request from a police officer, the next decision you make may be whether to submit to a breath test. The hand-held devices used during traffic stops usually just check for the presence of alcohol on your breath. Any number of issues may cause a breath test device to produce false positive results. This is one reason results of such tests are often not admissible as evidence in DUI cases. However, if you refuse a breath, blood or urine test following your arrest, it’s an entirely different ballgame.

The difference between pre- and post-arrest testing

You may think you don’t need to take any post-arrest chemical tests because you already took a breath test during your traffic stop. However, a breath test that positively identifies alcohol on your breath can be used as grounds for arrest and further chemical testing down at the police station or a hospital to chemically verify your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Refusing to submit to a chemical breath, blood or urine test after arrest is often a big mistake because the consequences can be severe. Like all states, Pennsylvania operates under implied consent laws. The state considers driving a privilege, not a right. When you obtain a driver’s license in this state, you implicitly agree to submit to chemical tests lawfully requested by a police officer in relation to a possible alcohol-related offense.

Therefore, refusing chemical testing means that your driver’s license will be automatically suspended, regardless of how your criminal DUI case turns out.

What can you do?

DUI laws in Pennsylvania may vary from other states. If you are unaware of refusal laws in this state, you may wind up facing serious legal problems.

Fortunately, not every DUI arrest results in a conviction. Anyone facing such charges can attempt to avoid conviction by relying on experienced and aggressive defense assistance in court.